High Frequency vs. Low Frequency

Have you ever wondered why the sound produced in your woofer is so distinct from that produced in your treble speakers? Congratulations! You’ve started your journey to learning about frequency.

Frequency is one of those properties that sound has because it is a wave. So, what is the frequency of a wave? It is simply the number of times a wave passes through a point in one second. It is measured in Hertz (Hz). If a wave passes through a point five times in one second, it is said to have a 5Hz frequency.

Does sound wave frequency affect loudness?

It is not uncommon for people to use frequency to mean the loudness of sound. However, that usage is wrong.

Frequency has nothing to do with how loud a sound is. Instead, you can observe the frequency of a sound in its pitch. Pitch is typically identified by how thin a sound is. Sound with a higher pitch will sound thinner (imagine a whistle), while sound with a lower pitch will sound huskier( think: a dog’s growl)

Loudness, on the other hand, is influenced by the intensity of a sound and measured in decibels (dB). A high-frequency sound can vary in loudness and vice versa.

Dealing with sounds: low frequency vs. high

Although frequency has nothing to do with the volume of sound, it can still affect your perception of it. Human beings can generally perceive sound between 20Hz and 20,000Hz. However, this range can vary greatly among people depending on their age, health, and other factors. 

Conventionally, frequencies below 500Hz are regarded as low. These frequencies are below the lower limit of audibility. Sounds within this frequency range sound husky. The lower the frequency, the huskier the sound and the less audible it becomes. At 20dB, most people can no longer hear anything.

High-frequency sounds are measured at 2000Hz and higher. Inversely to low frequencies, high-frequency sounds have a thin sound. The upper limit for most adults is 20,000Hz above which, we simply cannot perceive the sound. Sounds with a frequency higher than 20,000Hz are referred to as ultrasound.

In between low frequency and high-frequency sounds, you have mid-frequency. They are discernible sounds and can be easily perceived. 

High vs. low frequency in the studio

Every seasoned sound producer knows how to play around with sound frequencies for the best effects. 

Low frequencies are produced in your bass or woofer speakers. Interestingly, low frequencies can also be felt. That’s why you feel vibrations when the woofer is turned up. Woofers are usually designed to operate at less than 2500Hz. 

The subwoofer is an even more specialized type of speaker that plays lower frequency sounds less than 20Hz. They are usually the biggest speaker in the studio because they have to produce sound at a loud volume. 

Low frequencies do not travel very far and can be absorbed by items around, so they need to be played at a higher volume.

Some subwoofer products claim to be capable of playing sounds below 20Hz. While you may not be able to hear sounds below 20Hz, you will be able to feel the vibrations if it is loud enough.

High frequencies between 2000Hz and 20,000Hz are produced in tweeter speakers. Also known as treble speakers, tweeters are usually much smaller than woofers. The smaller size is because tweeters do not need to create a loud sound. High frequency sounds typically travel for longer can easily spread without any help.

It is important to note that low frequencies can be dangerous, especially if they are below the lower audible limit. Once sound drops to a similar frequency as the body organs (7Hz), it can cause serious illness and even lead to death.